And Then I Read: THE GOATS by Brock Cole

Cover illustration by the author.

Laura and Howie are at a New England summer camp by a lake, a boy’s camp on one side and a girl’s camp on the other. They are both nerdy misfits who are teased and made fun of by the other campers, and one night each of them are stripped of their clothes and brought to a small island in the middle of the lake and left there by their fellow campers. Both are humiliated, cold, bug-bitten, angry and miserable, but the cruelty dealt to each gives them a bond, and they begin to become friends in that first horrible night as they escape together to the lake shore and break into an empty cabin. Gradually over the next few days, Howie and Laura figure out how to survive while still keeping their whereabouts hidden from the adults from both camps who are searching for them. When that becomes too tricky, they escape to a different camp altogether with a busload of kids they don’t know, but some of whom are willing to help them in their flight. Things continue to get more complicated, and parents get involved. The children develop a plan for rescue, but fall into much more dangerous trouble when picked up by a local policeman.

I picked this up at a book sale, and found it quite a good read. It’s the author’s first young adult book, and both the plot and the characters are appealing, even though the situations they find themselves in are kind of sad and depressing at times. This is an unusual coming-of-age story in which both the boy and the girl learn a lot about themselves and each other, and whose adventures and problems are believable and relatable.

Recommended.

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